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Run Long, Run Healthy Weekly Roundup — November 18, 2021

Your weekly guided tour of the best new research and articles on running from around the web.

Each week, Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot, also the world’s most experienced running editor, curates the latest and most useful content on running and health from around the internet. “I spend hours finding the best new research and articles, so you can review them in minutes,” Burfoot says.

THIS WEEK: Overtraining is a mirage. Make your runs more playful. Your 70s—the best decade. Use PEACE & LOVE on injuries. The best shoes for running economy. What, no post-run smoothies? Good pain, bad pain. “Transcendent running.” More.

Overtraining is a mirage—it’s actually under-fueling

An all-star cast of endurance nutritionists and exercise physiologists has published one of the most important papers of the year. Arguing like a panel of lawyers to a jury, they have made the case that the symptoms and measures of over-training are 90% the same as those of under-eating (termed Low Energy Availability) in science journals. This is a big deal because no one has ever understood what causes overtraining syndrome, but it’s relatively easy to identify under-eating, which is mostly synonymous with low-carbohydrate consumption. This article does a nice job of explaining the argument. Eat healthy, and you greatly reduce the risk of overtraining. More at Trail Runner.

5 ways to make your runs more playful

One of the many paradoxes in running—and don’t get me started on that subject—is the way we mostly rate ourselves and other runners as having a sense of humor, but then we are deadly serious about our training routines. No doubt about it: We need to play and laugh more while running. In fact, we need a virtually endless list of “playful runs”  like the five ideas in this article. See how many more you can add. My contribution: I do a local park run where I stop and scramble over many stone walls rather than sticking to the well-trodden path through the walls. More at Trail Runner.

Running in your 70s—the best decade

This week, I stumbled across a 2-year-old Outside Online column from Martin Fritz Huber in which he wrote that one’s 30s are the best decade for running. Given that he was 36 at the time, I have to say his outlook is a tad limited. I’m a faithful reader of Fritz Huber’s columns and generally agree with his perspective. But not this time—my vote for best running decade is the 70s. And since I’ve run through every decade from my teens to my mid-70s, I’ve got a longer view. For additional evidence, I offer Mike Wien, the 70-year-old who just won his age group at both Boston and New York. He’s not bragging. In fact, he spends half his time praising Leroy Cummins, the runner who finished just 22 seconds behind him in New York. The 70s are a great decade for appreciating everything about running. More at Facebook/Mike Wien and Outside Online.

Use PEACE and LOVE for soft tissue injuries

I remember the days when we treated soft tissue injuries with ICE (Ice, Compression, Elevation), then RICE, then PRICE (add Protection and Rest to the above). But I missed POLICE, which doesn’t matter because we’ve now skipped ahead to PEACE & LOVE. In case you’re not good at anagrams, this means: Protect, Elevate, Avoid anti-inflammatories, Compress, Educate. And, after a few days, Load, Optimism, Vascularization with pain-free exercise, and more pain-free Exercise. Rock on! More at Brit J of Sports Medicine.

For optimal running economy, buy the shoes that feel most comfortable

When you’re looking for a new pair of shoes, you can make things complicated … or you can keep it simple. The second approach probably works better, according to a new meta-analysis of running shoe comfort and running economy. The researchers found: “It can be concluded with moderate certainty that improved RE in recreational athletes is associated with wearing more comfortable footwear compared to less comfortable footwear.” If they feel good, buy ’em. European J of Sport Science. More from European J of Sport Science at RLRH webpage. And more thoughts on the “comfort filter” at PodiumRunner.

How running contributes to leadership and “transcendent purpose”

According to Entrepreneur magazine, “There are five reasons every leader should run a marathon.” Okay, that’s a nice new take. I liked all five but particularly: “Understanding that big successes are an accumulation of small successes;” and “Understanding how to create sustainable change.” A recent research paper looked at similar ground: how running a marathon changes our self-image and our wider views. It concluded that charity runners “revised their self-narratives,” “promoted a transcendent purpose,” and “strengthened connections to others.” I’m thinking we need more people to aim for marathon start lines. More at Frontiers in Sports & Active Living.

For personal gain, know good pain from bad pain

Eventually, all runners must learn to distinguish between “good pain” and “bad pain.” I’m not sure good pain is the right way to put it, but you know what I mean—modest muscle soreness, also called DOMS for (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). This happens, especially after hard workouts, downhill running, and so on. Most of us learn to tolerate some muscle soreness. But you also have to learn to recognize bad pain, because it can lead to chronic injury. This article does a nice job of drawing the line, and helping you understand when to stop running for a few days. Or longer if necessary. More at Fit Page.

What, no post-run smoothies?

I’m often attracted to articles with an unexpected piece of advice, like this one based on an interview with top-rank sports nutritionist Lauren Antonucci. It’s about what not to eat/drink after a workout. And I certainly agree with the worst three items: beer, pizza, and bacon and hashbrowns. But fruit smoothies? That was a surprise. Read the article to find out why. More at Well And Good.

Exercise benefits outweigh the risks of chronic illness

Let’s face it: Some people can’t or shouldn’t exercise. However, the number of such individuals is far fewer than widely believed. In other words, “perceived risk” is much higher than the real risk, and perceived benefits lower. A group of experts hopes to reverse these misperceptions with a “consensus paper” that concludes the following about individuals living with Long Term Conditions (LTCs): “(1) for people living with LTCs, the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks, (2) despite the risks being very low, perceived risk is high, (3) person-centered conversations are essential for addressing perceived risk, (4) everybody has their own starting point and (5) people should stop and seek medical attention if they experience a dramatic increase in symptoms.” Do what you can. Anything is better than nothing. More at British J of Sports Medicine.

Yes, you can be lean with high testosterone

Adult endurance athletes tend to have lean bodies, so we don’t associate them with high testosterone levels. However, that seems to be a misconception. This study found that, compared to non-exercisers, endurance-trained men around age 50 had significantly higher testosterone, along with less body fat and less inflammation. All good, in other words. Conclusion: “A more widespread adoption of endurance training should eventually reduce the occurrence of inflammation and chronic diseases in the population.” More at J of Clinical & Translational Research.

SHORT STUFF you won’t want to miss

How to use your heart rate to monitor training and health

Yes, zinc might help fight respiratory infections, maybe even Covid

Everything you could possibly want to know about HIT training, with a little fartlek for good measure


“You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” —Marcus Aurelius

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. Stay well, and see you next week.